Part Time: Definition and examples

The term Part-Time describes workers who work fewer hours in the day or week than full-time workers. The term can also apply to work and jobs, as in: “I work part-time” or “I have a part-time job.”

Somebody who works part-time is called a ‘part-timer.’ If I ask: “How many part-timers are there in your company?” I want to know how many employees work part-time.

laptop and other tools of a part time web content writerWeb content writing is a job that can be done part-time. Image Kevin Phillips on Pixabay.

No universal definition

The number of hours in a full-time job varies among countries and also from employer to employer within countries. Because of this, there is no universal definition of how many hours make up part-time work, except in relation to full-time.

The government of the United Kingdom, for instance, define a part-time worker simply as “someone who works fewer hours than a full-time worker.”

In the U.K., full-time workers usually work 35 hours a week or more. This is generally the case in the United States also.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) also define the term in relation to full-time. According to the ILO, part-time workers are those “whose normal hours of work are less than those of comparable full-time workers.”

The ILO suggest that part-timers are comparable to full-timers when they:

– Have the same type of employment relationship
– Do the same or similar type of work
– Work in the same organization

A bit of history

Regulation of working time was one of the first concerns of labor legislation. By the early 1900s, governments had recognized that working excessive hours was a hazard to health.

The very first ILO Convention, C001, put a limit on working hours. It was adopted in 1919. As countries introduced legislation on working time, so a framework for regulated hours, rest periods, and annual holidays began to emerge.

Involuntary part-time

Workers who choose to work fewer hours are not the same as those who are forced to do so, e.g., for economic reasons or because they cannot find a full-time job.

The U.S. government refers to the second case as “involuntary part-time” work.

The ILO also emphasize the distinction. They state that full-time workers who find themselves partially unemployed due to a “collective and temporary reduction in their normal hours of work for economic, technical or structural reasons, are not considered to be part-time workers.”

Employment rights

Specifying standards on part-time work is necessary to address issues such as promoting equality and job creation.

In the U.K., for example, it is against the law to discriminate against part-timers just because they do not work full-time. U.K. law requires that they receive equal treatment for:

  • Pay rates – including for sickness, maternity, paternity, and adoption leave
  • Holidays
  • Opportunities for: promotion, transfer, redundancy, and career breaks


Some people choose to work part-time to improve their work-life balance. Others may do so because their circumstances don’t permit them to work full-time. Reasons for this may include caring for aging relatives or young children.

Monster, the employment website, have a list of job types that might interest people looking to improve their work-life balance by going part-time. Here are some of them:

  • Recruitment – many headhunters employ part-timers. The work involves conducting telephone interviews, setting up meetings between employers and candidates, and keeping records.
  • Accountancy – in countries such as India there has been a surge in start-ups. This has increased the demand for part-time accountants and book-keepers. The work includes looking after petty cash, liaising with banks and suppliers, and helping out with annual audits.
  • Customer service and sales – for those who enjoy dealing with people and are good at it. There is a wide range of roles in a large variety of sectors.
  • Tutoring – offering tuition to school- and college-age students can be financially rewarding for those with the right academic qualifications and who have established a good reputation.
  • Content writing and editing – this ranges from technical writing (such as of product manuals) to writing and posting information and news on company websites and social media.

The gig economy

Interestingly, the rise of the gig economy and remote work has significantly expanded part-time and temporary employment opportunities, allowing people to work for multiple employers or engage in freelance work.

The gig economy refers to a labor market characterized by flexible, temporary, or freelance jobs, with people typically work for multiple employers at the same time.

Since the global financial crisis of 2007/8 and the Great Recession that followed, Western Europe, North America, and Australasia have shifted towards gig economies. According to economists, this trend will probably continue.

Part-time work is increasingly facilitated by digital platforms, offering flexible job opportunities in various sectors, from ride-sharing to freelance graphic design, catering to the evolving workforce dynamic.

Pros and cons of part-time work

Part-time work offers many advantages and disadvantages. Let have a look at some of them:


  • Flexibility – it is easier to work around your personal schedules and family commitments.
  • Work-life balance – you have more time for personal activities, time with family, etc.
  • Opportunities for multiple jobs – it is a great way to gain experience in different types of jobs rapidly.
  • Reduced stress – part-time work is typically less stressful than working full-time.


  • Lower income – you will most likely earn less as a part-time worker than you would in a full-time job.
  • Limited career growth – there will be fewer advancement opportunities compared to full-time positions.
  • Fewer benefits – such as paid vacations, parental leave, health insurance, and pension schemes.
  • Job insecurity – employers tend to fire their part-time staff first when there is an economic downturn.
  • Work inconsistency – your hours each week or month may fluctuate, as might your income.

Video – What is Part-Time?

This video presentation, from our sister channel on YouTube – Marketing Business Network, explains what the meaning of ‘Part-Time’ is using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.